Since you will be working from home, you’ll need to keep in mind your family’s traffic patterns. When you pick your home office space you probably don’t want it right in the midst of your children’s videogame marathons. Or be in the path of the endless trips to the refrigerator by hungry family members. So take the time to really watch how your family flows — it will save you countless moves from room to room.
And if you’re a person who is environmentally conscious check out our Green Home Office information.
Use Your Available Space
If you look around your home you’ll probably find a few places you can call your very own. Here are some of the more common areas that people use in their quest for the perfect home office location:
-Spare Room: Most popular (and logical) choice.
Pros: May be far enough away from the family traffic that you’ll be able to have some privacy. Also, there is usually enough room to setup your desk and other office furniture.
Cons: If you still want to use it as a guest room you could be jepordizing your home office tax deduction.
-Living Room: Usually the largest room in the house.
Pros: Very conducive for receiving customers/clients. Keeps your clients away from more private areas of your home. You’ll also have a closet for hanging up people’s coats and (in some homes) access to a half bathroom. Also a good way to know what the children are up to while you’re working.
Cons: You may be in the mainstream of your family’s lives which could disrupt your workflow.
-The Family Room: Usually a large area and you can transfer the family room activities to the living room easily.
Pros: Family rooms are generally located near the kitchen and back entrances, so this would be an excellent second choice for recceiving customers and business clients. Great if you want to stay in the family mix while you work.
Cons: May be too close to the center of activity in your home. Also, being so close to the kitchen might not be a good idea if you’re watching your weight.
-The Kitchen/Breakfast Nook: This large area could be a good spot if you need a lot of space to get things done. If your kitchen has a breakfast nook perhaps you could partition it off of the main kitchen.
Pros: The kitchen is the heart of the house, so if you like to be in the thick of things this would be the best spot. Many kitchens also have their own door, so you’re clients will be able to come and go without walking through your entire house.
Cons: Since you cook in the kitchen, there’s always a danger of grease or other food stains getting on your work. Also, there’s also the danger of over snacking while you work.
-The Dining Room: Another great room if you need a lot of room to get your work done.
Pros: Since many people don’t use their dining room for dining this can be an excellent place to setup your office. You won’t be displacing anything and you’ll have plenty of room for office furniture and storage.
Cons: Your dining room might be right in the traffic path of the rest of the family. Also, depending on the location, you may have to use the livingroom to greet your business associates so that they don’t have to walk through the private areas of your home.
-Closets: It seems strange, but closets can make an excellent office if it is setup properly.
Pros: Closets are hidden and can provide a self-contained workspace that can be hidden away when you aren’t using it.
Cons: You may outgrow it faster than you expect and then you’ll have to find another location. Another negative aspect is the lack of natural light — my sister “The Plant” would die without a room lit by natural light.
Would you like to give your closet a try?
I recently read an easy to understand article that shows you step-by-step how to convert a closet into a workable office. And the best thing is you need basic household tools to get the job done.
Things You’ll Need:
- Wrecking bar or crow bar
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Putty knife
- Drop cloths
- Latex paint (in a light color)
- Paint roller
- Power saw
- Tape measure
- Bevel gauge
- Stud finder
- Sheet of plywood
- (3) 1-by-2 inch cleats
- Quarter round
How Much Space Do You Really Need?
If you plan on having a business that includes frequent mailings or product assembly you’ll definitely need to increase your space by at least an additional half of what you already think is enough.
I have a friend who does frequent mailings. One of her greatest frustrations is her inability to setup her mailings in an assembly line fashion. Because she lacks adequate space things get misplaced often, which leads to wasted time and effort.
Quick Tip: Remember to add at least 10% of your intended office space for your storage space.
You should allocate enough space to hold your supplies and items you infrequently use. Since most people use inkjets, you don’t need a lot of room to store the cartridges. I use my laser printer for most of my printing needs, so I have to make extra space for the toner boxes.
Quick Tip: The bottom of a closet to be a great place to store reams of paper, laser printer supplies, paper clips, pens, etc. If you have little kids, the top shelf may be a safer spot.
And last, but not least, you should try to provide yourself a place to decompress. In my office, I have a small loveseat that I can use to give myself a break from working on the computer. Sometimes I sneak a cat nap, other times I use the loveseat to proofread my work or to make phone calls. It’s nice not to be chained to the chair.
Now that you have your office equipment, let’s take a few minutes to look at some other important aspects of setting up your home office.